Canopy CO2 concentrations and Crassulacean acid metabolism in Hoya carnosa in a subtropical rain forest in Taiwan: Consideration of CO 2 availability and the evolution of CAM in epiphytes

C. C. Hsu, T. C. Lin, W. L. Chiou, S. H. Lin, K. C. Lin, C. E. Martin

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The potential importance of CO2 derived from host tree respiration at night as a substrate for night time CO2 uptake during CAM was investigated in the subtropical and tropical epiphytic vine Hoya carnosa in a subtropical rainforest in north-eastern Taiwan. Individuals were examined within the canopies of host trees in open, exposed situations, as well as in dense forests. Although night time CO2 concentrations were higher near the epiphytic vines at night, relative to those measured during the day, presumably the result of CO2 added to the canopy air by the host tree, no evidence for substantial use of this CO2 was found. In particular, stable carbon isotope ratios of H. carnosa were not substantially lower than those of many other CAM plants, as would be expected if host-respired CO2 were an important source of CO2 for these CAM epiphytes. Furthermore, laboratory measurements of diel CO2 exchange revealed a substantial contribution of daytime CO2 uptake in these vines, which should also result in lower carbon isotope values than those characteristic of a CAM plant lacking daytime CO2 uptake. Overall, we found that host-respired CO2 does not contribute substantially to the carbon budget of this epiphytic CAM plant. This finding does not support the hypothesis that CAM may have evolved in tropical epiphytes in response to diel changes in the CO2 concentrations within the host tree canopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-135
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Mar 1



  • Acidity
  • CO exchange
  • Drought
  • Epiphytic vine
  • Respiration
  • Stable carbon isotopes
  • Tree canopies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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